Author Brooke E. Wayne: Romance with a Kiss of Humor

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Along Came Summer … and Went

… So here’s what went down …

I woke up to my first day of summer vacation doubled over in pain, asking my husband to rush me to the ER. Twelve hours later, I was back home minus one very grumpy appendix.

Recovery was miserable.

Not just because my stomach was a wall of black and blue and my guts were on fire, but because the pain meds I had to take to manage my agony were all too effective.

In fact, they were blatant productivity killers … devious minions of mind scramble … wasters of time … and suckers of all energy.

Little assholes—that’s what they were.

During those few weeks of mindlessness, I spent hours nodding off and on in between blank stares at all the home improvement and cooking shows on TV. I might’ve even skimmed through all the click bait on Facebook on my cell because, apparently, when I’m forced to be lazy, I just have to know what all those Amazon products are that have a cult following. That’s about all my mind was capable of.

Sad, I know.

The next thing I knew, I was sleeping on sheets 40k reviewers insisted I needed to buy, and I began to blame those velvety cool sheets for making me wake up well into the afternoon each day. That, and the frickin’ coma causers, I mean, pain meds.

Then, when I ditched the pain meds in lieu of regaining mental clarity again despite my stomach pains, I fell down the black hole of Netflix Rom-Coms.

Yep. And another chunk of my summer vacation broke free and drifted away.

I kept telling myself that it was writerly research to be watching movie after movie, but really, who am I kidding.

Before summer began, I had a plan. A summer writing schedule to be exact. And I was becoming the ultimate shirker of my author responsibilities all because one of my organs decided to jump ship. But, alas, note the word in that last sentence … was.

I eventually dug my head out of the proverbial sand once I was fresh out of excuses, including being pain-free naturally—yay me—and I finally wrote something.

Hi there, you’re reading what I wrote.

I sat on this post for about a week, though, and got sidetracked again. Only in a good way. The culprit–new romance book releases. Writers read, and, if they don’t, they should. So that detour did count as productivity, and it ignited my desire to get on task.

Long story short, with just a few weeks to spare on my vacation, I finally pulled together my full outline for WINE NOT? over the last few days—the novel that I was supposed to start writing before appendectomy-gate.

The new plan … to keep moving forward and knock out my third Rom-Com in my Vineyard Pleasures Series one day at a time, even if my summer is slipping away. Then I’ll just reconfigure my writing time once I begin teaching again in August. I’m all out of expendable organs to slow me down, so onward I roll.

I’m thrilled with the new plot! This love story centers around Victoria L’Angevin, Julien’s younger sister. Unlike her family of vintners, Tori is an Archaeologist heading out on a crazy quest to find love among Norse ruins. I am beyond excited to begin this new adventure with her!

If you’re new to my website, you can enter the SUMMER LOVIN’ READER’S MULTI-AUTHOR/BLOGGER GIVEAWAY Rafflecopter for a chance to win a free eBook of Whine with Cheese, the first standalone in the Vineyard Pleasures Series and many other prizes.

SUMMER GIVEAWAY PR

Or, if you’re not into competitions for awesome books and things, then you can always pick up any of my eBooks or paperbacks on AMAZON at any time by clicking the big, obnoxious Buy on Amazon link below :o)Red Buy on AmazonPromo-turquoise-gradient-wwc-ltwyw-rectangle

 

Workbook Review: Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook

If you’re a hands-on person and you’re starting from scratch as a newbie writer or you need to capture and organize all your random thoughts and scribbles to prepare to write your next novel, then Robin Woods’ Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook is meant for you.

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Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook by Young Adult author, Robin Woods, is organized with a reasonable, progressive flow to construct your novel, yet it’s easy to navigate back and forth between sections to suit your writing approach.

It’s full of all kinds of writerly information, graphic organizers, worksheets, and plenty of room for journaling to get your novel up and running.

So …

I recently decided to quell a trilogy plan I had been working on for a while that accompanied the current novel I’m querying. (Yep, I’m still hanging in there.) Instead, I am pressing forward with a sequel that can function as a stand-alone by branching a new love story from two minor characters in the first novel. In other words, I’m going with a two-part series.

My reasoning for this big change is because the premise for the third novel is just too exciting to keep it waiting, and the guts of the second novel could, with a little nip and tuck, easily serve up an overall better plot if I use that premise as the inciting moment and just move on.

Enter Robin Woods’ Fiction Writing Journal & Workbook.

It happened to be a happy accident that I was ready to delve into making sense of my independent sequel (is that even a term??) simultaneous to my long-time friend offering me a free copy of her workbook. Yes, you read that right, we’re friends, for, like, decades.

So …

Instead of just reading through the informational parts of the workbook and blasting an unbiased review all over the Internet once I’d finished (no doubt garnering some eye rolls and tsks or wonderings about whether friends ever really give friends ‘honest reviews’), I thought I’d show how I actually used the workbook and prove why I give it the maximum stars.

You see …

I have all these colorful spiral notebooks—a stack of them to be exact, and they have all kinds of disorderly information in them that, when pulled apart and mixed around, make perfect sense to me. Character studies, setting notes, plot points—you name it—and somewhere in my stack of madness there might actually be a method to this budding new sequel I want to pursue.

In addition to my teetering stack of stuff n’ stuff full of all kinds of random this n’ that I have accumulated over the last year, I also have lots of tidbits on my iPhone in the Notes App full of my thoughts-on-the-go, and I even have two Word Docsx outlines I had once planned for the trilogy plus oodles of rough draft writing to boot.

In other words, I’m hands-on and all over the place when I prepare to write. I just am.

And …

I was in need of a singular place to vet and compile before typing everything up into a functioning outline because I was dying to get this WIP rolling in the right direction.

Can you see how it was destiny? My mess and Robin Woods’ workbook were made for each other.

I was not kidding when I said BIG stack. FullSizeRender

HUGE.

Just look at it. ———————————>

All kinds of random going on in that mess. Two books’ worth of ideas that I needed to boil down into one poignant, romantic plot …

 

… Then this happened.

FullSizeRenderI found this workbook satisfied my need to write things down in a journal. Don’t get me wrong—I love using my laptop for all parts of the writing process—but this workbook helped me scratch that itch to put pencil on paper, so that I could compile my final outline. The fact that it has everything I need in graphic organizers to help me reel in the stack of madness makes this workbook the bomb.

Here’s a peek at the table of contents to give you a better idea of what the book contains to help you organize your future best seller:

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Robin Woods’ website, http://www.robinwoodsfiction.com, also contains lots of helpful information for writers of all genres. She’s a YA author of The Watcher Series and has six novels and one work of non-fiction under her belt. Definitely, check out her site, and, if you like a hands-on approach to organizing your fiction ideas, her book is the tool you need.

Week One of NaNoWriMo

As a first year NaNoWriMo participant, I made a deal with myself to start day one and keep moving forward with one goal in mind: 50,000 words.

In preparation for the event, I scrounged around inside my head and pulled out some heartfelt, funny, and awkwardly painful memories of my high school days and threaded a story line through it. My chapter and scene outline, character sketches, and research amounted to over 8,000 words. None of which, I would count towards my rough draft.

Then on day one, I started to type.

I liken the experience last Sunday to running up hill holding my breath.

Not being allowed to reread, delete-delete-delete, revise, and then keep on going has been a slow, torturous journey for me.The reason is because I like to fine-tune as I go.

Notice how I didn’t say polish.

So rereading became inevitable by mid-week, and to scratch my nagging itch, I finally gave into bolding the lines I thought were keepers…the rest, debatable…but not delete-able, not yet anyway.

IMG_7693Getting to 10,000 in one week was a lot harder than I expected. Not because chocking up a word count was some sort of challenge—I’m more than capable of rambling on and on at the keyboard—but that I examined every word in my head before it came out of my fingertips like I was picking out the perfect mix of my own assorted Godiva box of chocolates.

If you’ve never done this, grab a credit card and go to the mall.

Go now.

(You’ll thank me later.)

I also had a lot of my writing time eaten up with How-the-Hell-Did-I-Do-That? moments this past week. (See pic.)IMG_7687

I admit, some words did get the ax here and there when I broke down and reread what I had written after a few days, but overall, the story is unfolding, as is.

(Gulp.)

And I have 21 days left to go.

I know I need to pick up the pace to reach my word count, but I do get a full week off before the deadline (Yay, teaching perks!), and I am finally finding my groove with the MC’s voice.

I just need to resist the urge to backtrack, as well as, stop treating every single word like it’s there to stay. I still have 40,000 more words to go, and I’m learning to accept that they’re just not all going to be a mouthwatering delight. And I must Keep. Moving. Forward.

Sunday Writing Rambles: When a Plotter Plots for #NaNoWriMo

When I was a kid, I used to jot down every poetic couplet or line of dialogue that popped into my head on anything I could get my hands on—gum wrappers, receipts, and even the palm of my hand if my journal wasn’t within reach. Then I’d transcribe everything into my word processor, plugging all of my ideas and bits of writing into documents that I’d groom until they were nice and shiny.

You see, I lived down the street from an author, and she gave me one piece of advice: Write everything down, always.

FullSizeRenderSo I did.

And I still do.

Since last weekend, I’ve been pulling together all of my scattered ideas into a single Word Docx. I’ve pecked things into my Notes app, scribbled chunks on loose-leaf paper at work, built a secret Pinterest inspiration board, and even scrawled out a ton of ideas in a spiral notebook that I’ve kept on my night stand for those middle-of-the-night gems.

As of today, I have managed to take detailed notes on 90 scenes (87 solid scenes plus 3 skeletal scenes that need a little more fleshing out for purpose), as well as complete my basic research for my time period references–all of which are now neatly tucked away on my laptop (and forever secured in my Apple Time Capsule).

My project that I am working on will be my second full-length novel, but this will be my first time knocking out a rough draft in thirty days through National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo).

I’m a little surprised how easily the plot is falling into place.

Although it’s a lot of truth that’s been exaggerated then marinated in romance, I feel that it’s fresh, original, and promises to be something I’ll be proud of when November 30th rolls around.

I’m definitely a plotter/planner all the way.

Although, I have to say that many times through the process of editing my first novel, I did fly by the seat of my pants in a couple of places.

There’s one scene in my first novel where my MC opens the door and meets a man who causes her to rethink everything she thought she knew about love. This man was not in my plot-packed notebooks. When the front door flew open and this salty, carefree, heart-stopping, smooth talker appeared, I was as surprised as she was, but I went with it. Further edits wiggled him in from the beginning, and he forever defined my main character’s overall arc. Breaking free from being a planner and going with the whole pantser feel was exactly what my novel needed to bring everything together.

I’m not afraid to fly by the seat of my pants through any part of my upcoming novel, but as of this weekend, there’s no way I’ll be wondering what to write next especially when I still have two more weeks to plot away. I’m learning that even though I can safely label myself a plotter/planner, I’m capable of pantsing it, too. Either way, I’m embracing the challenge ahead, writing everything down … as always.

Sunday Writing Rambles: Putting the Creative into your Writing

Everybody is an expert these days. It doesn’t matter if you’re self-published, traditionally published, hybrid, or, like me, biding your time in the trenches of querying—everybody has something to say about “How To’s” based on experience or simply something cool he or she lifted from Pinterest.

I’ve steered clear of joining the ranks mainly because I don’t have anything published yet. (Uhm, not including all that boring copy I wrote for an encyclopedia set to pay for my MA a long time ago.) Somehow, I got it stuck in my head that until I had earned the title author by means of publication, I wasn’t one.

Then, a few trad pub mentors spanked me for being too unassuming. My mantra has been, “Inspired by Love and Laughter—Aspiring to Write About It,” for almost a year now in my social media outlets.

Cute, huh?

Except for the Aspiring part.

Ouch!

I didn’t even realize how condescending I was being to myself until it was pointed out to me.

Turns out, I’m not aspiring to be a novelist; I am one. I wrote a novel—a big ass novel that at one point weighed in at 100K but is now hovering over 83K. It’s alive and well and hanging out with some agencies for the time being. It might not be published … yet … but someday, it will be.

It’s a lame reason to hold back all the knowledge I know about writing. I get that, but, nonetheless, it did cage me in … for a while.

I sloughed off the “Aspiring” part this week and have decided to add some lessons to my blog posts. I’ve been an English Language Arts teacher for nearly twenty years. I know a thing or two about plot structure, character development, cultivating voice, the importance of arcs in dynamic characters, and layering to reach the ultimate climax. I teach the ancient Hero’s Journey Archetype (not Campbell’s or Vogler’s adaptation—but I am quite familiar) and The Coming of Age Cycle Archetype. I even wrote my MA thesis on the latter to the tune of nearly 140 pages, and don’t even get me started on the value of symbolism in prose (eh-hem, more than just discovering clever names you might have snatched off a baby naming website).

When it comes to my novel, as lighthearted as it is, I aim to have my reader cock an eyebrow and think, “I see what you did there,” as she’s reading. I am still humble enough to know I have a helluva road ahead of me in learning more as an author, but at this point, it’s time for me to start spilling the beans on what I do know.

Rookie novelist that I may be, I actually have a lot to offer, and lately I have had to combat the I’m not worthy feels when pressing send to the agents I am approaching, so to remedy my querying jitters, I am going to start dipping out of my bag of tricks and share some tips that can elevate someone’s writing:

A Lesson on Length: Size Does Matter

Here’s a popular pin from my PINTEREST board: Writing Tool Kit

FullSizeRenderIf you’ve done Word Press’s Writing 101, you’ll recognize this writing exercise. The assignment was to take the choppy, droning, monotonous cadence of the seven-words-per-sentence prompt and revamp it using varied sentence lengths.

Varying the amount of words per sentence creates a lilting effect for the reader, but rather than packing the lines with extra adjectives and a few unnecessary adverbs to stretch their lengths, I weaved in some poetic devices to bring the setting in the varied lines to life.

ORIGINAL PROMPT:

“The man rode hard through the woods. The black horse’s effort lay in lather. The sun beat down from high overhead. Dark birds circled, drifted, and then returned. The land baked, and dust hung suspended.”

MY INTERPRETATION:

Naked branches tore at the man’s shirt, gnarled and twisted, bending their claws in desperation, as he broke free from the parched woods. They were closing in. A merciless heat beat down on the wasteland. Desolate. Wrought with lifeless wreckage caused by the blistering sun. His black horse, never faltering once, pressed forward upon the scorched riverbed. Hot breath burst from the beast’s flaring nostrils. Closer still. Men’s cries rang out. Their gunshots shattered dark birds against the stark white sky, once drifting in aimless circles. His freedom neared. He could see the border just over the horizon. Sensing the man’s adrenaline, his horse bore down, and dust hung suspended in the wake of their escape.

Personification:

Giving something that doesn’t have a heartbeat life in the form of humanlike characteristics or attributes

naked branches … bending their claws in desperation … parched woods … merciless heat beat down …

Alliteration:

Two or more words beginning with the same consonant, thus creating sound effects

wrought with lifeless wreckage … hot breath burst from the beast’s …

Imagery:

The use of any of the five senses—sight, scent, sound, taste, and touch

(The whole damn thing—okay, okay… here’s my favorite:)

gunshots shattered dark birds against a stark white sky …

Another trick I used in varying my sentence length was to break the rules of grammatically sound sentences and go for some one and two word punches.

… desolate … closer still …

Using poetic devices to add layers to your writing can elevate it in both quality and quantity.

Class dismissed.

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